Category Archives: Written Reviews

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Dungeon Ni Deai O Motomeru No Wa Machigatte Iru Darou Ka REVIEW


After a long break, we are now back to a new season of Anifile reviews! Now that the spring season has truly gotten started with most shows heading towards the halfway point of their runs, it’s the best time to get an understanding of the ten shows that we will cover. First off, and the clear favourite as chosen by you, is the fantasy ‘role-play game-esque’ title Dungeon Ni Deai O Motomeru No Wa Machigatte Iru Darou Ka? or Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?

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Fantasy games and series are one of those formulas that never seem to go away. It’s a steadfast fixture in creative storytelling and something that can be easily crafted but hard to turn into a true masterpiece. Shows like Record of Lodoss War and The Hobbit are just two examples that appear off the top of my head. Those titles had rich worlds, compelling characters and a plot which thrilled from beginning to end [Except the latter’s movie adaptation, that was a little long winded!]. DanMachi tries to take that formula and add a little of the video game world into proceedings whilst maintaining a sort of ‘realism’ with its universe.

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Our story starts with Bell, a young adventurer who has only just begun his quest to become an epic warrior and do his grandfather proud; that and pick up some girls along the way, which would also make his grandfather proud. Through the wonderful world of flashbacks, we reveal that Bell met a young goddess named Hestia [who was cast out of another familia for being too immature and unable to pay her debts] and have set up their own familia together. One with blackjack and hookers…OK, scratch those. Bell and Hestia work together to build up their reputations with a little help from friends that the amicable Bell picks up along the way. Little does he know thought, that other goddesses have a lot in store for the white-haired scamp.

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Going back to my previous notion regarding fantasy stories for a moment, it’s quite easy to get bogged down in retreading previous ground that other narratives have trod. DanMachi doesn’t do that thankfully. Instead, it carefully sprinkles the traditional tropes throughout its first episode and a little of the second. By the end of the first four episodes, you get a full grasp of how Bell’s world works. With that efficient exposition, we can focus on what makes the show pretty good; and I’m not talking about Hestia’s frontage. Bell is in love with Aiz Wallenstein, a master swordswoman from the rival Loki familia. Her skills are brought to his attention when she saves him from a rogue minotaur and from that moment, his skills were buffed with THE POWER OF LOVE. This being anime of course, Bell has to have a harem chasing him along. We have Hestia, the homely waitress Syr, his support Liliruca, Aiz [Sort of?] and then the goddess/villain Freya. Despite this trope, it’s clear that Hestia and Bell’s bond runs deep as they have a mutual belief in one another which is far greater than most relationships. They never gave up on one another and together they have the chance to do something great. Since Hestia is a goddess, she is unable to use magic directly due to strict rules governing divine beings. However, she is able to imbue a powerful knife with her runic power which taps into Bell’s hidden power and wreak havoc on any foes and therefore opening the path to glory for the pair.

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I believe that the story is a solid one. It isn’t going to win awards for originality, but it’s a tale which is likeable enough to generate a following. What struck me was the novel way of being able to ‘check your stats’ by using Hestia as a middle manager. It means that she has a use and is intrinsic to Bell’s development instead of being a whiny brat who just so happens to be a goddess. It’s a way of demonstrating her talent and magic without being in your face. She’s also not omnipotent, she’s a young goddess and still has to find a following and gain a foothold in the divine circle she once was a part of with another familia. I have to admit that I was skeptical at first given the furore of this anime [for the obvious reasons] but I sat down and took my time to think about this and realised that I want to see this tale through. I wasn’t overwhelmed with plot and nor was I bored with filler. It got the balance right as a light-hearted romp through medieval X-ania. It also helps that JC Staff’s animation prowess lends itself to the visual style of the original source material as it does with most comedic content. It all comes together in a neat looking package with good animation, decent plot progression and interesting characters. My only problem, more concern, is that there isn’t much action going on in some episodes which could perturb some fantasy fans who want to see non-stop drama and suspense; there’s a lot of dialogue going on in between the brief fracas. However, I don’t think that’s a bad thing; I’d much rather get to know characters through meaningful discussions rather than being hurled exposition during a sword fight which seems forced. It’s a matter of preference at the end of the day.

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Do I like DanMachi? Yes, I do! It’s a far better story than I gave it credit for prior to watching. I can see why all the hype put people off to some extent; it may seem a little vapid based on that first look but I encourage you to stick with it and you’ll find an entertaining fantasy comedy which isn’t hard to get into. You’re not going to be bowled over by high drama, but you’ll get a laugh out of it and that’s all that matters.

Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

RATING: CONTINUE [Lighthearted fun in an intriguing fantasy world which blends games with traditional tropes.]

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Bad Fanfiction Theatre: Sonci, Rainbow Dash and Robokinis Machine


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Inspired by the works of BennettTheSage, Anifile has a brand new show entitled Bad Fanfiction Theatre. Join Mr Gamington-Smythe as he dramatically reads the finest fanfiction the internet has to offer. Today, Sonic is sent to another world and falls in love with a pony and then has to make a terrible decision in order to save Pornvile and South Arabia.

Original Fanfic: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7680290/1/Sonci-Rainbow-Dash-and-Robokinis-Machine

Sketches drawn by http://www.youtube.com/FrobmanAKATillman

Be sure to subscribe for more anime videos:http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=masakoxtreme

SPECIAL THANKS TO MY PATREON BACKERS!
Phyllida, Dawn T, Stephen R, Brian E, David D, EJ Allen, Mahan, Eric G, Eric W, Brandon W, Darren180223, Alex W, Zelo B, Jamie D, Griffin, Brandon B, Tristan G, Bryce S, Matthew D, Peter B, Charles G, Michael S, Jonathan K, Skitch, Henry H, Jack, Jayro Z, Tim M, Joshua R, Benjamin M-D, Lightuke, Alesha F, Alexander S, Jack D, D’Metrius S, Anthony P, Veronica B, Vaati, Teitur L-M, Malcolm T, Furst, Ben C and Lord Cultivatus.

Spring 2015 Anime – Your Choice


At last, the new season of anime has begun to settle down into its run. There are almost twenty one new anime up for review this time around and once again, Anifile is here to review them.

After the success of last season’s streamlining format, I shall do the same this season. Like before, you get to choose which shows I cover by either voting for it, or not voting for it. Ten anime will be covered, the top six and bottom four – in order to get a diverse pick of good and not-so-good shows.

As usual, sequel seasons are not eligible for review [including season two of Knights of Sidonia, sadly!] so as to focus on BRAND NEW productions.

Cast your vote and let’s get the reviews underway!

Absolute Duo REVIEW


Another day, another show based in a magical academy. Thankfully though this school is geared towards straight-up brawling which makes it a little different and far less nebulous than others have been in recent seasons. Needless to say though, it’s still going to be hard to stand out from the crowd. Can Absolute Duo break through convention and be an absolute success?
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Enter Toru, a brand new student at Kouryou Academy, a place of learning which seems to borrow its architecture from all corners of the world. That’s not the only thing that this show borrows from other sources; most of the plot is from something that most audience members will have seen before. Toru’s quirk is that he is considered an “Irregular” because his soul-based weapon or Blade is a shield whereas the typical Blade is an offensive weapon which varies depending on the user’s soul. This doesn’t mean he is a weakling, he can channel his spirit energy into a powerful not-Falcon Punch. This anomaly attracts the attention to the standard child prodigy from another land with silver hair and innocent outlook on life, Julie Sigtuna. In typical harem anime fashion, these two are placed together as partners at the academy, called Duos. Each Duo fights together against the rest of their class in battles which are scattered throughout the campus. As we go forward into the story though, it’s clear that the origins of the Blades aren’t as clean-cut as they seem. What seem like spiritual weapons are actually psychosomatic tools, meaning if you want to cause actual harm, you channel that thought into your tool and it is imbued with it; not that that the students are told that at first. Shame that this nugget of intrigue is almost lost within the sea of mediocrity.
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Absolute Duo to me seems like a show run by committee who have watched tons of harem anime and know what will sell discs and books. This anime was based on a light novel written by Takumi Hiiragiboshi and the results add to my notion that most light novels these days tend to get shoddy or sub-par adaptations. Hiiragoboshi and the FIVE producers of this adaptation shoehorned as many cliches as physically possible into a twenty minute magical academy formula. You have the stoic leading lady with the supreme skills [Julie], the unusual main character with a tragic past [Toru], the serious one [Tachibana], the one who’s well-endowed and self-deprecating [Hotaka] and the overly peppy teacher [Tsukimi] who wears rabbit ears and has a really forced cutesy voice and patronising demeanour clearly instilled to titillate but thankfully is rebuffed by the rest of her class as weird. That being said, just because this is generic doesn’t mean it’s bad; it just means it fails to inspire. What it does do is produce a show which is of decent quality. The cliches at play are done with a modicum of flair and style. The animation is alright and harks back to Infinite Stratos in look and feel [which makes sense as both shows are animated by the same studio, 8-bit].
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All this predictability is solidified with a short flashforward [like in World Break this season] of Toru and Julie fighting each other, which implies that the intrigue that Julie had for Tory turns from mild curiosity into a desire to destroy or so it seems. I tend to find flashforwards to be major spoilers of shows; sure it leaves you intrigued to find out what happens but if you’re watching this as it airs, then you have to wait for weeks and wade through a sea of average teenage angst and magical drama. That being said, none of the characters are terrible or unlikeable, they’re all good people with a desire to embrace their skills or sheer luck [Only one in a thousand people are compatible with this world’s wonder drug, Luciful, which empowers the host.]. What I don’t like is that the students are being made into soldiers pure and simple, it all seems rather morbid in a way. Not to mention that each student gets one hundred thousand yen a month [roughly eight hundred and fifty dollars] to play with with their ID/credit card because reasons. It all seems rather convenient and forced. It’s hard to say where this will go in the end, but based on first impressions and the show’s first arc, it’s going to be less than great.
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Absolute Duo is a decent show which does enough to pass through most filters as a nonoffensive product. It ticks the boxes in what makes a regular magical harem production without pushing any boundaries but not aggravating the audience with anything glaringly poor or rage-inducing. It’s alright, middle-of-the-road, meh. Whatever you want to label it, it’s not bad. I don’t recommend it because there are better shows out there. If you do choose to watch it though, you’re not going to regret your choice but neither will you remember it after you finish it.

Absolute Duo is available to stream on Funimation.

RATING: CAUTION [Forgettable harem series with some flickers of flair]

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Love Bullet – Yurikuma Arashi REVIEW


In this post apocalyptic world, bears have risen up and eaten the populace. It’s a lot different to the types of near-extinction shows we’ve seen in the last few years. Usually it involves something huge or scary or simply unseen. Here though the threat is adorable…adorably deadly. Yurikuma Arashi is the antidote to Attack on Titan oversaturation.

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Our story takes place in a world where bears have evolved into hyper intelligent killing machines. However, these bears aren’t the hulking grizzlies we would first imagine; these bears are a foot tall and so utterly cute it hurts. Thanks to some kind of super powered asteroids which hit Earth when the distant planet Kumaria exploded, bears stood on their hind legs and started eating humans. As such, mankind built huge walls in the sky to keep the bears out…until one day, two bears broke through and started wreaking havoc [sound familiar?]. Some bears can also take human form and infiltrate the population; which is what bears Ginko and Lulu have done. They have enrolled in a school to find fresh meat to feast on. Enter Kureha, our leading lady. She and her best friend [and what is portrayed as lover] Sumika tend to the school garden until one day, when Sumika is killed and eaten by what is seen to be Ginko and Lulu although as we progress through the plot, it becomes a lot more confusing. We then get scenes which involve a courtroom where the two bears are judged whether they can do something [I wasn’t quite sure at first] which involves saving Kureha [which is illustrated as licking her lily…eww.]. It’s all rather poetic and symbolic, but is it any good?

yurikuma_2The show’s director is Kunihiko Ikuhara, the genius behind Revolutionary Girl Utena and Mawaru Penguindrum, two shows which broke boundaries in style and flair as well as yuri undertones. As soon as you say Ikuhara you can understand where the story will go, this show will contain a lot of girl love and a lot of crazy shenanigans! This series feels a little different though; it’s a lot more assured in pace than the two other Ikuhara works I mentioned. Like the plot is keener to get going and throw some really surreal stuff at the audience’s face. One thing’s for sure, you’re not watching your typical moe-fest here. Everything feels carefully crafted and patiently choreographed to ensure the message which the auteur wishes to convey is not lost. Sadly though to the average viewer, it could come off as pretentious and baffling and I must admit that I found myself thinking this all too often. For example, the whole courtroom scene with Ginko and Lulu; it’s at first hard to say what their allegiance is. They clearly want to eat humans but they seem to be protecting Kureha from enemies or keeping her alive so they can be the one that eat her. Also, the lily. I get it, it’s pretty phallic and it sums up what this show is about – it’s high-art soft-core ecchi. Sophisticated titillation.

yurikuma_4If you come at this show with a more adult orientated perspective, you could consider Yurikuma Arashi an example of social commentary with Japan’s attitude towards homosexuality. In Japan, homosexuality is frowned upon in the extreme; BUT why are yaoi and yuri so prevalent in its primary visual export? Ah, that’s where this show illustrates that notion perfectly. Most yaoi and yuri projects aren’t as sexually driven as you might think; it’s all in the romantic atmosphere. The love shared between two people who are very close and have a bond which is pure and beautiful which explains the more rose-tinted colour palette most series and books employ. That’s what we have with Kureha and Sumika’s relationship – a pure and romantic friendship of two young adults. It’s OK they’ll grow out of it, their parents tell themselves. It’s all harmless adoration. Then we get the bears, a potential example of how homosexual women are portrayed in Japanese society. Rabid, lustful and corrupting; unable to restrain themselves and “eat” the innocent lovers or taint them. Ginko and Lulu behave in a far more carnal nature than Kureha and Sumika did. That’s just one example of how deep this show is; it’s a show which is here to comment on the state of homosexuality in Japan and how it’s considered to be black and white; either it’s harmless experimentation or it’s no-holds-barred lust which needs to be governed by the authority [which in this case is the courtroom, I think.].

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n the end, Yurikuma Arashi is a show intended to entice and provoke. If you’re tired of the vapid and the facile anime show that is all too common these days, let Ikuhara take you on a colourful journey through sexual discovery and the media’s portrayal of sex and love. Kureha is our conduit and the bears Ginko and Lulu our handlers; together they lead us through a highly intricate story which is guaranteed to shock and intrigue. I recommend you give this a go and remember, this IS a yuri series, expect a certain level of fanservice but it’s all done tastefully and with due care and attention. Just like the show as a whole.

Yurikuma Arashi is available to stream on Funimation.

RATING: CONTINUE [A clever show with a vibrant symbolic plot]

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